Reviewed by Synda Turnbull for the Sunshine Coast Daily
Fast and furious Easter entertainment with Influence!
Influence opened last Friday night at Noosa Arts Theatre, to great applause from a very appreciative full house.
The cast give highly impressive performances, under the Direction of Sam Coward, who has asked a great deal from his actors, and was not disappointed. Staging the production without any costume or scene changes, means that the delivery is rapid-fire, and the effect is exhausting.
The acidic and bitingly funny lines come thick and fast in this David Williamson penned play about a radio shock jock who’s public on-air persona, and crumbling private life are on a collision course.
Local radio personality Mark Darin makes an impressive acting debut as the bigoted Ziggi Blasko. It is hard to believe it is his first straight acting role.
In the entire cast there is not a weak link. They have clearly all worked very hard to get this production rattling along at high speed.
Summer Bowen, (last seen in Fiddler on the Roof demonstrating a beautiful singing voice), is hilarious as Ziggi’s manic bi-polar daughter Vivienne and really shows off her comedic skills.
Xanthe Coward is fabulously callous as his young wife Carmela, Sharon Grimley as Zehra the Turkish Muslim housekeeper draws empathy from all in the audience as she is subject to treatment that is simply beyond belief.
Jodie Bushby commands respect as his Physiatrist sister Connie, (you can just imagine his cynicism!), and Stephen Moore gives a usually beautifully controlled performance as Tony the family butler (another of Ziggi’s downtrodden staff).
Joe Jurisevic was last seen as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, so playing Ziggi’s elderly migrant father Marko, is far removed from that role. Marko provides the drama in the story, threatening to reveal a deep dark secret that could bring Ziggi’s career crashing down.
There is never a dull moment in this production, there isn’t time for one, this show is so slick.
The final performance on Saturday 30th April, is a Gala celebration of David Williamson’s 40 years as a playwright. All tickets to this special celebrity night are $75 each and include complimentary drinks including Domaine Chandon Champagne on arrival, a gourmet supper by Bud Higgins of Noosa Catering and drinks during interval, and a programme.
Ziggi Blasko is a Sydney shock jock. The play opens with him manipulating the power of his radio-desk and drumming up hate and prejudice. He hones in on the working poor – a group of low paid workers who are struggling to make ends meet. But as irony has it, his own housekeeper is one of these people.
Ironies multiply as Ziggi’s private and public lives collide. His father reveals his involvement in war crimes, his daughter loses his savings on the stock exchange and his housekeeper, Zehra, exposes him on-air.
Bryce Hallett’s review sums up the central themes of the play. ‘Influence almost ends where it begins – the lone manipulator reveling in the adoration of strangers while his own life is in tatters. The merchant of “the truth” is almost unchanged except he’s more smugly inflated as he reassures listeners that he’ll always be back “because this country wants to hear what I’ve got to say”.’ (Sydney Morning Herald 21/03/05)